Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Pollution Mapping: 1 Monitor, 10 Cities, 100 Points, and 1000 words

Following up on the last post "5 basic things for urban air quality management" in the developing countries, here is a proposal for the readers and anybody who is interested in pursuing pollution mapping in their respective cities.

In general, in the urban centers, where the monitoring is conducted, it is mostly restricted to a limited number of hot spots and the number of operational monitors are less than the required to support the mapping (or indicate) of the pollution of the city...

For policy discussions, a point measurement of 100 pollutants is not enough, but one pollutant measurement (say PM, which is critical for exposure and health analysis) at 100 points will provide larger support to argue and explain the science and physics of urban air pollution.

In today's day and age, the accuracy is not an issue, we have access to state of the art monitors, and all sizes and all kinds. It is a matter of purpose - mapping or many pollutants !!

The proposal goes like this..


Pollution Mapping: 1 Monitor, 10 Cities, 100 Points, and 1000 words

1 Monitor: I have in mind the "Dust Trak"

This is not the only monitor in the market, but this seem to be economical and works well. The new features on the instrument allow to log the data with GPS synchronization (latitudes and longitudes) and blue tooth for online mapping (and more possible offline with a GIS interface). It is important to note that this is for PM only. With calibration, this instrument is known to measure up to PM1.0.

10 Cities.. lets say, a mix of big and the medium ones.

Personally, doing it in just one city as a pilot is not worth it. The monitors have been tested before and in use.. a good number of industries use them and the methodology is established. This is the scale up time and putting a larger framework down with at least 10 cities simultaneously will help mobilize others to follow.

100 points.. the measurement points around the city.

For each city, this would be ideal. More the merrier. We know how important the process of monitoring is and how often we quote and read that a proper baseline is missing or lack of enough data on the ground to show the hot spots of the city.

On one side, we have the continuous monitoring systems $300,000 (which measure most of the pollutants) and a tier lower anything between $50,000 to $100,000. This is still a finance intense program and limits the number of monitors (these are not mobile) that one can actually put to map the city.

What will really complement is at least a 100 point scan of the city and consolidate the numbers from both sides. And it is possible to do cheaply. Once done and overlaid on physical map with residential, road, and industrial backgrounds, with some interpolations and calculations, you will be sitting on an immense data set for hot spots. It will be lot more easier to argue with the locals using the measurements from this methodology than from the modeling (which is also as important).

1. Get a dust trak or similar monitor
2. Setup the points around the city, get a student or two to do the rounds every other day and measure the PM concentrations.

One could argue that, this is only one data point per day per site.. then again, the end results is a 100 point scan of the city on every other day (depending on the time period chosen)

1000 words..

Bring the points to Computer, load them to GIS, do some analysis, finalize results, and disseminate the idea in thousand words (according to New York times (some time back), that's the reading limit).

An exercise like this, provides a movie of the city air pollution in 3D, which is usually done by modeling - with perfect emissions inventory and full meteorology at the ground level.


Kenneth Odero said...

I need to set this up in Kenya yesterday. Would you help me?


Sarath Guttikunda said...

Dear Kenneth,

could you send me an email please.

With regards,

Kenneth Odero said...

Dear Sarath,

You never left your e-mail address!

Mine is odero(at)climatexl.org

Kenneth Odero